Raiders Keys to Victory

ITAR-TASS 150: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 15, 2010. Keys to new Audi cars presented to members of the Russian Olympic team during a ceremony off Moscow's Red Square. The event was held to honour Russian athletes who brought medals home from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Maxim Shemetov)

Have no fear Raider Nation, for I am here to put all of your questions and concerns to rest regarding this week 7 match-up between the Broncos and the Raiders. My last article was a bit negative, fresh off of a loss to a team that the Raiders should have (and would have) manhandled if they had had the option of Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback. But Radkowski TM was not available, and thus we were forced to endure a showing that was one of the worst quarterback jobs in the history of the organization.

So without further ado, I give to you my thoughts from the dark side. A guide to what the Raiders MUST do to walk away with a win in Denver on Sunday.


Whose is going to be, whose it going to be? Rather than to be or not to be, that is the question facing the Raiders this week in Denver. I think it’s pretty clear that Jason Campbell needs more time to get used to the scheme, the speed of the receivers, releasing the ball at the top of his drop, the dropped passes, and the complete lack of an offensive line for pass protection. But to me, that third one is the most important one of all. I was so mad after that last game, and Patrick and Levi will be mad at me for saying this, but because I’m a fan first and a reporter second. My last article got 38 comments, by far the most I’ve had since joining the staff of TFDS, some agreed and some disagreed, but my point is this, I was fuming mad at Jason. Whether or not everyone around him did their part on every down was irrelevant to me. A quarterback rating of 10.7 is unacceptable, and later that night I watched the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts duke it out in what I considered to be one of the best QB vs. QB match-ups of the week. I had to watch this game to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the Raiders game.

Anyhow, while I was participating in the viewing of these two gunslingers, Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb, I was counting the seconds of their release of the ball (one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand) and you’ll never guess when most of the balls left their throwing hand…on time. How about that? Even though their lines might be considered better than the Raiders line, they still release the ball at the top of their drop (approximately three full seconds) because:

  • They can actually read a defense
  • And because they know that is what you are supposed to do in order for a pass to be on time.

Reason B is why Jason Campbell constantly throws to his check down receivers. So, can Campbell do the job, yes he can, but will he do the job, probably not. Much like JaMarcus Russell, Campbell has all the right physical tools, but unlike those two superstar quarterbacks in the aforementioned game, Campbell lacks the confidence to believe in his own throwing abilities. He is far too cautious.

That’s why I say that if the Raiders don’t start Kyle Boller this weekend on the road in Denver, especially with Campbell nursing a knee injury, then they aren’t really giving themselves a good chance to win this ballgame. It’d be nice to have Bruce, but Campbell has proven that he is too gun shy to “Cut it loose,” as head coach Tom Cable likes to say.

Defensive Ends

Word on the street is that Quentin Groves will return to the weak-side linebacker position and retake the spot that was claimed by Trevor Scott in his absence due to injury. Scott is reportedly primed for a return to the three-man defensive end rotation. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders decide to stick with Matt Shaughnessy as their starter in a position that he has rightfully earned with far better play than the abovementioned Trevor Scott. Scott is more of a situational defensive end, a pass rushing specialist. The move back to defensive end from weak-side linebacker to “Get the best 11 on the field,” according to John Marshall, was ill-advised in my honest opinion. But then again, who am I to say?

And that’s not saying that Quentin Groves didn’t beat out Scott for that position, all I am saying is that Shaughnessy did beat out Scott for the DE position. If anybody should’ve taken a seat then that person is Lamarr Houston, not Matt Shaughnessy. However, personally, I’d leave Shaughnessy and Houston in as my starters and make Scott what he should be if they insist on playing him at defensive end…situational.

Broncos Passing Attack

Before you even ask the question, yes it is that good. Odds are they will shred the Raiders defense much like the Chargers and Phillip Rivers did a few weeks ago. Odds also say the Raiders will have to score more than nine points to win this game. Whose odds? My odds.

The Broncos remind me of the New England Patriots a few years ago when Tom Brady threw an NFL record for touchdowns. They can’t really run the ball, although I believe they will certainly try to do so against the Raiders run defense which remains subject to scrutiny. However, when they do throw the ball (which will be very often), the Raiders had better hope that their safeties aren’t cheating up and peeking in the backfield the way they have all year. They need to keep their back four back this week and make the Broncos wide receivers pay for each of their catches and earn their yards after catch.

Pop Quiz: What is a defense most susceptible to when they are desperately trying to solve their run defense woes? The answer is most likely obvious, it’s the play-action pass. Expect to see a lot of it from the Bronco’s on Sunday.

Reverse Record

In the Oakland Raiders this year, you are looking at a team that is 2-4 but in an alternate universe, they should be 4-2 with wins over San Francisco and the Arizona Cardinals. They should’ve won three of their last four and two in a row, but here we arrive at shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I think it is so important right now that the Raiders’ coaching staff focus on the “One game at a time” impression that they tried to instill in these players this year. In fact, it’s one of the basic idea’s in coach Tom Cable’s philosophy. This is a team that has a short-term history of getting lost in their record and playing poorly from there on out; for the most part. But this coaching staff has got to get these players thinking, hey we are 0-0 this week and we will get our first win of the year on Sunday.

The same train of thought should be used until the team is at least at .500, if they can possibly get to that level this year after going under it by two games. The team is talented, no doubt about that, but the loss of confidence at this early juncture would be a critical turning point in the teams progression as well as the future of the current coaching staff.

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